Children are nearly half of our population, but … In a week, Solomons’ population growth equals more than seven classrooms full of children; this is the size an average primary school. This need for classrooms (and books, teachers, etc.) is not being met. Studies show that children’s basic survival needs are often not met and that the legislative environment is not yet fully protective. Children are too often victims of forms of exploitation. Many parents and families keep their children from school because they are not able to pay the required fees.
Child care is becoming a major concern, as families increasingly need two incomes to support themselves in the cash-economy life-style they have been induced into. In urban areas, parents who grew up having traditional extended family support are often ill-equipped to select, monitor, or guide baby-sitters. In the past, raising children was a joint responsibility that involved everyone in the lineage. From their earliest years, children were told that what ever they did would reflect on the entire family and to behave so that the family would enjoy a good reputation. Many islanders could claim several sets of parents when they were young. An important feature of the traditional system was the insurance it offered: A child whose parents were unable to perform their responsibilities would still be cared for. Today, child rearing remains the primary responsibility of the parents, but they are fast losing the benefit of all the help they enjoyed some years ago. As the family in the Pacific becomes more nucleated and dispersed, aunts and uncles have gradually lost much of their traditional responsibilities for helping to raise their nephews and nieces. Parents become more posses sive of their children, and for reasons of pride (or shame) do not wish to share (or burden) their extended families with the responsibilities of rearing them.